Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

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Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#1 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 9:30 am

I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north. I’m still finding amazing wines and value in cool climate varieties from the Columbia Valley AVA. While I’ve had impressive Syrah from Yakima, all of the cabs have been underwhelming. Is it just too hot in the summer for Bordeaux blends? Anything you’ve tried that knocks your socks off?
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#2 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » May 17th, 2019, 9:52 am

Red Mountain AVA (a sub-AVA in YV) has Betz 'Heart of the Hill' which is an fantastic Cabernet. Too young right now, but all the pieces are there.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#3 Post by GregT » May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am

I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#4 Post by James Lyon » May 17th, 2019, 10:43 am

Isn't Two Blondes vineyard in Yakima Valley?

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#5 Post by Markus S » May 17th, 2019, 10:51 am

GregT wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am
I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
Yes, WA state is not that far north, unless you're coming from the perspective of south Texas or Florida. And it doesn't have the same maritime effects that Bordeaux has, which is very close to the Atlantic, as the state's vineyards are inland and not marine influenced at all.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#6 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 10:57 am

GregT wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am
I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
More the Gulf Stream that makes all the difference.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#7 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 11:04 am

James Lyon wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:43 am
Isn't Two Blondes vineyard in Yakima Valley?
Have some JB Neufeld from Berserkers Day but haven’t opened the Two Blondes yet:
https://www.cellartracker.com/w?2818123

Their base wine was good, but...

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#8 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 11:06 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 9:52 am
Red Mountain AVA (a sub-AVA in YV) has Betz 'Heart of the Hill' which is an fantastic Cabernet. Too young right now, but all the pieces are there.
And the game show goes ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. I’ve enjoyed many of their other wines and just assumed this was near their home vineyards too. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#9 Post by C Wagner » May 17th, 2019, 11:15 am

This is an interesting topic that I've spent a fair amount of time pondering. Probably more than is healthy.

My wife grew up in the heart of the Yakima Valley with a father who worked in the business. I've now gotten to know a number of producers in the valley pretty well. Most of the ones I've gotten to know have been a bit more market driven than out to make the absolute best wine possible. Their customers typically have wanted inexpensive Bordeaux blends that drank young. Previously, this was riesling with a bit of RS.

I think that, for whatever reason, a number of growers in the YV (especially those outside of Red Mountain) just don't do some of the more basic things to get top quality fruit. Gross generalization, but many don't drop fruit often enough and are picking too late, among other things. I personally just feel like too much of the orchard farming mentality persists there, with yield and ripeness being the targets.

Regarding Bordeaux blends specifically, I think great examples can (and have) been produced in the area. However, I truly believe that eventually varietals more suited to a dry climate and that would require less irrigation (the area only gets 6-8 inches of precip a year on average) would ultimately produce a better wine when compared with it's worldwide competition. Things like grenache, cinsault, aglianico, nero d'avola, etc.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#11 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 11:20 am

Josh Grossman wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:57 am
GregT wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am
I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
More the Gulf Stream that makes all the difference.
Cleveland shares a latitude with central Spain.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#12 Post by Josh Grossman » May 17th, 2019, 11:24 am

C Wagner wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:15 am
This is an interesting topic that I've spent a fair amount of time pondering. Probably more than is healthy.

My wife grew up in the heart of the Yakima Valley with a father who worked in the business. I've now gotten to know a number of producers in the valley pretty well. Most of the ones I've gotten to know have been a bit more market driven than out to make the absolute best wine possible. Their customers typically have wanted inexpensive Bordeaux blends that drank young. Previously, this was riesling with a bit of RS.

I think that, for whatever reason, a number of growers in the YV (especially those outside of Red Mountain) just don't do some of the more basic things to get top quality fruit. Gross generalization, but many don't drop fruit often enough and are picking too late, among other things. I personally just feel like too much of the orchard farming mentality persists there, with yield and ripeness being the targets.

Regarding Bordeaux blends specifically, I think great examples can (and have) been produced in the area. However, I truly believe that eventually varietals more suited to a dry climate and that would require less irrigation (the area only gets 6-8 inches of precip a year on average) would ultimately produce a better wine when compared with it's worldwide competition. Things like grenache, cinsault, aglianico, nero d'avola, etc.
Thanks! Is Walla Walla in the same rain shadow?

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#13 Post by James Lyon » May 17th, 2019, 11:24 am

C Wagner wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:15 am
This is an interesting topic that I've spent a fair amount of time pondering. Probably more than is healthy.

My wife grew up in the heart of the Yakima Valley with a father who worked in the business. I've now gotten to know a number of producers in the valley pretty well. Most of the ones I've gotten to know have been a bit more market driven than out to make the absolute best wine possible. Their customers typically have wanted inexpensive Bordeaux blends that drank young. Previously, this was riesling with a bit of RS.

I think that, for whatever reason, a number of growers in the YV (especially those outside of Red Mountain) just don't do some of the more basic things to get top quality fruit. Gross generalization, but many don't drop fruit often enough and are picking too late, among other things. I personally just feel like too much of the orchard farming mentality persists there, with yield and ripeness being the targets.

Regarding Bordeaux blends specifically, I think great examples can (and have) been produced in the area. However, I truly believe that eventually varietals more suited to a dry climate and that would require less irrigation (the area only gets 6-8 inches of precip a year on average) would ultimately produce a better wine when compared with it's worldwide competition. Things like grenache, cinsault, aglianico, nero d'avola, etc.
Heck, I didn't realize that Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills were both sub-AVA's to the Yakima Valley. Therefore, please include most Andrew Will wines and Ciel Du Cheval vineyard designate wines in the discussion. Andrew Will's Sorella, Champoux, Ciel Du Cheval and Two Blondes can compete with Cali and Bordeaux.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#14 Post by Gabe Berk » May 17th, 2019, 11:58 am

Great Bordeaux Blends as in first through third growth? YES!!! Red Mountain AVA and The Rocks AVA in the Yakima Valley is putting out world class Cabernet and Syrah too. One winery that produces some stunning wine it is Force Majeure. Their 2016 Cabernet and SJR Syrah are 99 & 100 points respectively FWIW. Betz, Quilceda Creek and others included.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#15 Post by GregT » May 17th, 2019, 12:11 pm

Josh - latitude isn't the key factor. Bordeaux is part of a large estuary off the Atlantic, whereas Yakima is inland and is essentially a desert. The city of Yakima is around 1000 feet high and they get about 10 inches of rain a year. Because of the mountains, there is a choice of elevation for your vineyards. A place like Margaux is pretty much at sea level, with an elevation of around 50 feet and it gets around 36 inches of rain a year. It also has much more cloud cover. The soils are different. The regions are quite different in all respects. A closer analog to Bordeaux might actually be somewhere on the east coast.

But the Yakima Valley is pretty big, as noted above, and the Andrew Will wines have on more than one occasion been mistaken for Bordeaux. Cadence sources fruit from Red Mountain. Col Solare is also there.

As far as Cleveland, don't laugh, but I've actually had a good Cab from Ohio. Of course, they are now out of business because who buys Cab from Ohio, but at least they showed it could be done!
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#16 Post by John Peacock » May 17th, 2019, 12:41 pm

Gabe Berk wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:58 am
Great Bordeaux Blends as in first through third growth? YES!!! Red Mountain AVA and The Rocks AVA in the Yakima Valley is putting out world class Cabernet and Syrah too. One winery that produces some stunning wine it is Force Majeure. Their 2016 Cabernet and SJR Syrah are 99 & 100 points respectively FWIW. Betz, Quilceda Creek and others included.
Just to be clear, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA is not within the Yakima Valley. The Rocks is a sub-AVA of the Walla Walla AVA, which is a sub-AVA of the Columbia Valley AVA. Red Mountain is a sub-AVA of Yakima Valley AVA, which is a sub-AVA of Columbia Valley AVA. The Columbia Valley AVA covers almost half of the entire state of Washington (and even some of Oregon).
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#17 Post by Jim Anderson » May 17th, 2019, 12:54 pm

GregT wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am
I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
Bangor, Maine is 45 degrees north latitude as well. It’s something people get hung up on but really means next to nothing.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#18 Post by Scott E. » May 17th, 2019, 1:04 pm

The area produces some unique and excellent Syrah that may rival great Bdx/Cali blends, but IMHO the area (Yakima, Red Mtn and WWV included) will never produce a Bdx blend that rivals those in Bdx or Cali.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#19 Post by C Wagner » May 17th, 2019, 1:36 pm

Josh Grossman wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:24 am
C Wagner wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:15 am
This is an interesting topic that I've spent a fair amount of time pondering. Probably more than is healthy.

My wife grew up in the heart of the Yakima Valley with a father who worked in the business. I've now gotten to know a number of producers in the valley pretty well. Most of the ones I've gotten to know have been a bit more market driven than out to make the absolute best wine possible. Their customers typically have wanted inexpensive Bordeaux blends that drank young. Previously, this was riesling with a bit of RS.

I think that, for whatever reason, a number of growers in the YV (especially those outside of Red Mountain) just don't do some of the more basic things to get top quality fruit. Gross generalization, but many don't drop fruit often enough and are picking too late, among other things. I personally just feel like too much of the orchard farming mentality persists there, with yield and ripeness being the targets.

Regarding Bordeaux blends specifically, I think great examples can (and have) been produced in the area. However, I truly believe that eventually varietals more suited to a dry climate and that would require less irrigation (the area only gets 6-8 inches of precip a year on average) would ultimately produce a better wine when compared with it's worldwide competition. Things like grenache, cinsault, aglianico, nero d'avola, etc.
Thanks! Is Walla Walla in the same rain shadow?
The short answer is, sort of. I believe they get somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 inches of precip per year, so quite a lot more than the 6-8 of the Yakima Valley but far less than the 40-something of western Washington.
Last edited by C Wagner on May 17th, 2019, 1:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#20 Post by C Wagner » May 17th, 2019, 1:39 pm

Gabe Berk wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:58 am
Great Bordeaux Blends as in first through third growth? YES!!! Red Mountain AVA and The Rocks AVA in the Yakima Valley is putting out world class Cabernet and Syrah too. One winery that produces some stunning wine it is Force Majeure. Their 2016 Cabernet and SJR Syrah are 99 & 100 points respectively FWIW. Betz, Quilceda Creek and others included.
The Rocks District AVA isn't in the Yakima Valley. The Rocks is a sub-AVA of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, which itself is inside the Columbia Valley AVA. The Yakima Valley is within the Columbia Valley AVA but shares no land with the Walla Walla Valley AVA.


edit - Oops! Just saw this was already covered.
Last edited by C Wagner on May 17th, 2019, 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#21 Post by Gabe Berk » May 17th, 2019, 1:40 pm

John Peacock wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 12:41 pm
Gabe Berk wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:58 am
Great Bordeaux Blends as in first through third growth? YES!!! Red Mountain AVA and The Rocks AVA in the Yakima Valley is putting out world class Cabernet and Syrah too. One winery that produces some stunning wine it is Force Majeure. Their 2016 Cabernet and SJR Syrah are 99 & 100 points respectively FWIW. Betz, Quilceda Creek and others included.
Just to be clear, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA is not within the Yakima Valley. The Rocks is a sub-AVA of the Walla Walla AVA, which is a sub-AVA of the Columbia Valley AVA. Red Mountain is a sub-AVA of Yakima Valley AVA, which is a sub-AVA of Columbia Valley AVA. The Columbia Valley AVA covers almost half of the entire state of Washington (and even some of Oregon).
Spot on. Got my Washington AVA's all turned around. Nonetheless, Washington excites me quite a bit when it comes to Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. In 20 or so years, people will be saying, "remember when you could get X Winery Cabernet for $80, now its $250. [cry.gif]

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#22 Post by C Wagner » May 17th, 2019, 1:48 pm

Gabe Berk wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 1:40 pm
John Peacock wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 12:41 pm
Gabe Berk wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 11:58 am
Great Bordeaux Blends as in first through third growth? YES!!! Red Mountain AVA and The Rocks AVA in the Yakima Valley is putting out world class Cabernet and Syrah too. One winery that produces some stunning wine it is Force Majeure. Their 2016 Cabernet and SJR Syrah are 99 & 100 points respectively FWIW. Betz, Quilceda Creek and others included.
Just to be clear, The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA is not within the Yakima Valley. The Rocks is a sub-AVA of the Walla Walla AVA, which is a sub-AVA of the Columbia Valley AVA. Red Mountain is a sub-AVA of Yakima Valley AVA, which is a sub-AVA of Columbia Valley AVA. The Columbia Valley AVA covers almost half of the entire state of Washington (and even some of Oregon).
Spot on. Got my Washington AVA's all turned around. Nonetheless, Washington excites me quite a bit when it comes to Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. In 20 or so years, people will be saying, "remember when you could get X Winery Cabernet for $80, now its $250. [cry.gif]
No worries! This is not exactly the easiest of areas to keep straight.

I don't disagree with you there, but as I mentioned above I truly feel like some of the more drought resistant varietals farmed in a bit more inventive way will truly yield the best examples of Yakima Valley wine. That all said, some great examples of Bordeaux blends (and Syrahs) have been made there.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#23 Post by Scott Brunson » May 17th, 2019, 7:56 pm

Generally no, but I have enjoyed some Betz and Andrew Will
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#24 Post by Brian Glas » May 17th, 2019, 8:16 pm

Agreed. No

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#25 Post by Kris Patten » May 17th, 2019, 8:24 pm

GregT wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:29 am
I had generally believed that Washington was well suited for climate change, being so far north.
Yakima Valley is around 46 degrees north latitude. Margaux is about 45 degrees north latitude.

One degree makes all the difference? [scratch.gif]
WA is desert, BDX is a swamp.
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#26 Post by Kris Patten » May 17th, 2019, 8:31 pm

Scott E. wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 1:04 pm
The area produces some unique and excellent Syrah that may rival great Bdx/Cali blends, but IMHO the area (Yakima, Red Mtn and WWV included) will never produce a Bdx blend that rivals those in Bdx or Cali.
Hmmmm.....I don't know about that, the one thing people don't realize is for the most part technology hasn't been used in WA when planting vineyards, many are planted haphazardly and get repeated sunburn due to it. I think if you go to Zillah and head up to Elephant Mtn., they may have a shot at some world class Cab, and world class Cabernet already comes out of Red Mountain, Sheridan, and Red Willow vineyard.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#27 Post by Brandon R » May 20th, 2019, 9:25 am

EVER? Sure. I think some already compete with classified growth Bordeaux. In other words, with the same cost, I'd opt for a Bdx blend from the Yakima Valley in some instances over a Bordeaux. However, I think the best in Bordeaux currently outshine the best from the Yakima Valley. That said, I expect wine grapes will be grown there for a while yet and the quality will likely continue to improve. To me, the most Bordeaux-like wines in the AVA come from Red Willow Vineyard. I don't necessarily think they're the best.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#28 Post by Josh Grossman » May 20th, 2019, 9:54 am

Kris Patten wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 8:31 pm
Scott E. wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 1:04 pm
The area produces some unique and excellent Syrah that may rival great Bdx/Cali blends, but IMHO the area (Yakima, Red Mtn and WWV included) will never produce a Bdx blend that rivals those in Bdx or Cali.
Hmmmm.....I don't know about that, the one thing people don't realize is for the most part technology hasn't been used in WA when planting vineyards, many are planted haphazardly and get repeated sunburn due to it. I think if you go to Zillah and head up to Elephant Mtn., they may have a shot at some world class Cab, and world class Cabernet already comes out of Red Mountain, Sheridan, and Red Willow vineyard.
Thanks all. I have more than a couple cases of Syrah blends from most of these vineyards that are world class and I plan to continue buying. I do like Betz so will give Heart of the Hill a try. I have had Dunham and Woodward Canyon Bordeaux blends out of Walla Walla that were great and didn’t realize it was so close to Yakima.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#29 Post by dsGriswold » May 20th, 2019, 10:38 am

While I do not buy much BDX and now focus on Spanish and Italian varietals, Dubrul and Boushey vineyards get some good press for BDX and I will second the Red Willow vineyard for Italian. With my penchant for restrained PN, cool vintages work best for me. A fellow CTer is growing PN and Sangio up in Natches Heights along with Riesling and Syrah. Still in the early years of testing the waters. Sort of a hobby that got a bit out of hand, now building a winery. [wow.gif] [cheers.gif]
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#30 Post by Hal Blumberg » May 20th, 2019, 11:12 am

Try some Cadence wines. My favorite WA wines and ones that age very well. They are red blends of CS, CF, and Merlot.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#31 Post by Roy Piper » May 20th, 2019, 11:40 am

I would really like to consider making a small amount of Ciel du Cheval Cab someday. I am very intrigued by the Red Mountain AVA. I had an Upchurch Cab a year ago from his own vineyard and thought it was tremendous for the price of admission.
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#32 Post by Kris Patten » May 20th, 2019, 7:01 pm

I'd like to see you make a Horse Heaven Hills or Wahluke Slope Cabernet personally Roy, with my preference being Wahluke Slope.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#33 Post by Randy Bowman » May 20th, 2019, 7:25 pm

I believe soil and weather will always be the final difference between the three, with wine making regimens bringing out the best of each. The Long Shadows project is a good example of wine makers controlling/manipulating a given source of grapes. AVA's include Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain and other subs.

Gilles Nicault, born and raised in France and current head winemaker for Long Shadows makes Chester-Kidder, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah blend.

Randy Dunn of Napa makes Feather Cabernet.

John Duval, former Penfolds' Grange winemaker, makes Sequel Syrah

Michel Rolland from Pomerol, where he owns and manages a number of holdings and fine wine estates as well as consulting on wines all over the world, makes Pedestal Merlot.

Phillippe Melka, Hundred Acre, Seavy et al. makes Pirouette Bordeaux blend.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#34 Post by M Mager » May 20th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Kris Patten wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 7:01 pm
I'd like to see you make a Horse Heaven Hills...
For me, this is without a doubt the most underrated AVA in WA state (especially for Cab Sauv, as well as for Mourvedre...)

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#35 Post by Chuck Miller » May 20th, 2019, 8:32 pm

Sorry, not only will they, but they already have. Andrew Will and Cadence come to mind. The 1995 Andrew Will Cabernet ‘R’ was of particular note. Bottles I opened in 2011 were dead ringers for great vintages of Ch. Margaux. Famously, Lettie Teague served a 1995 Andrew Will Sorella in a 1982 Mouton bottle to friends https://www.foodandwine.com/articles/wi ... -confesses. I am not convinced WA wines will age quite as long nor develop the same complexity as Bordeaux can, but they can and do age 20-30 years, and the quality is excellent.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#36 Post by Kris Patten » May 20th, 2019, 8:59 pm

Randy, pretty sure Gilles makes them all, the celebrity team may taste, blend and consult, but Gilles and his team do all the day to day.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#37 Post by M Mager » May 20th, 2019, 9:59 pm

Chuck Miller wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 8:32 pm
I am not convinced WA wines will age quite as long nor develop the same complexity as Bordeaux can, but they can and do age 20-30 years, and the quality is excellent.
Point taken; however, if any current winemaker in WA can, I would put my money on folks like Ben & Gaye....

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#38 Post by R_Gilbane » May 21st, 2019, 6:33 am

Yes on a microscale and a resounding NO on a macro. Has everything to do with which company controls the vast majority of the farmers/producers. Bulk production reigns king.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#39 Post by Kris Patten » May 21st, 2019, 8:03 am

R_Gilbane wrote:
May 21st, 2019, 6:33 am
Yes on a microscale and a resounding NO on a macro. Has everything to do with which company controls the vast majority of the farmers/producers. Bulk production reigns king.
So exactly like Bordeaux, eh?
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#40 Post by R_Gilbane » May 30th, 2019, 1:02 am

Kris Patten wrote:
May 21st, 2019, 8:03 am
R_Gilbane wrote:
May 21st, 2019, 6:33 am
Yes on a microscale and a resounding NO on a macro. Has everything to do with which company controls the vast majority of the farmers/producers. Bulk production reigns king.
So exactly like Bordeaux, eh?
I don’t believe there’s a single company that controls ~70% of all the grapes grown for vinification in the Bordeaux region through its various subsidiaries. But if there is, and the bulk of those grapes are used to produce a lower tier price point product, than its eerily similar to Washington State.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#41 Post by Roy Piper » May 31st, 2019, 1:30 am

Kris Patten wrote:
May 20th, 2019, 7:01 pm
I'd like to see you make a Horse Heaven Hills or Wahluke Slope Cabernet personally Roy, with my preference being Wahluke Slope.
I need to learn a lot more about these relatively new AVAs. flirtysmile
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#42 Post by Doug Schulman » May 31st, 2019, 3:31 pm

A while back, I went to a tasting that included aged (15+ years) Andrew Will and classified growth Bordeaux wines. The answer, in my mind, is clearly yes. I do think that only a couple of producers may ever accomplish this, though, and I'm still surprised at how good those Andrew Will wines were given the hot climate.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#43 Post by Ron Slye » May 31st, 2019, 11:49 pm

I have had some Andrew Wills from the mid to late 90s -- really great wines. Not sure up to classified Bdx -- but they are really stellar wines.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#44 Post by GregT » June 1st, 2019, 11:07 am

The thing to remember is that nearly half of the acreage in Washington has been planted in the last fifteen years. And as for corporate ownership, Chateau St Michelle has been supportive of new entrants because they realize that they generate additional interest in the wines of the state. So it's really premature to offer predictions as to what might rival what. I think the folks in Washington have done a magnificent job in a short time, applying lessons learned from around the world to produce stunningly good wines. I just got back from WA a few days ago, having spent a few days tasting as much as I could, and while the total production is far smaller than it is in Bordeaux, the hit/miss ratio seemed to be much better. If you've ever been to Bordeaux to taste widely, you know that there's a lot of swill bottled there in addition to some magnificent wines. Remember, Bordeaux has been a commerce center for centuries and they had to sell a lot of second rate wine over the years.

I say give it some time. As to whether the wines will "rival" those from elsewhere, they will be different. They shouldn't be copies of something you can get elsewhere, they should be as good on their own. Then it will simply be a matter of personal preference.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#45 Post by Joel Pulver » June 2nd, 2019, 9:19 am

Ok ... had to pipe in on this one since I love Washington wines.

Latitude for Bordeaux is approx 45 degrees while that of the Walla Walla region is 46 degrees. Types of soil are different as previously stated with Bordeaux being at essentially sea level and Washington wines tend to be produced in "high desert." There are major differences in soil types although a good part of Washington's soil is alluvial soil from the old Missoula floods (which btw also spread as far south as the Willamette Valley, including Dundee).
Amount of rainfall is definitely a major influence with one area permitting irrigation and one are banning the same.

All the above being said ... you are trying to compare apples and oranges as Bordeaux has made wine from their soils for centuries and Washington AVA's are relatively new. I foresee world class wines including Bordeaux blends as wine making in the region matures. I believe due to the longer growing season and the ability of grapes to ripen more fully, you will always get a more fruit forward wine from Washington that would best be compared to warmer vintages in Bordeaux.

Just my opinion.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#46 Post by Rich Brown » June 2nd, 2019, 2:07 pm

Joel Pulver wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 9:19 am
Ok ... had to pipe in on this one since I love Washington wines.

Latitude for Bordeaux is approx 45 degrees while that of the Walla Walla region is 46 degrees. Types of soil are different as previously stated with Bordeaux being at essentially sea level and Washington wines tend to be produced in "high desert." There are major differences in soil types although a good part of Washington's soil is alluvial soil from the old Missoula floods (which btw also spread as far south as the Willamette Valley, including Dundee).
Amount of rainfall is definitely a major influence with one area permitting irrigation and one are banning the same.

All the above being said ... you are trying to compare apples and oranges as Bordeaux has made wine from their soils for centuries and Washington AVA's are relatively new. I foresee world class wines including Bordeaux blends as wine making in the region matures. I believe due to the longer growing season and the ability of grapes to ripen more fully, you will always get a more fruit forward wine from Washington that would best be compared to warmer vintages in Bordeaux.

Just my opinion.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#47 Post by NoahR » June 2nd, 2019, 2:49 pm

Gilbane has invited me to drink (forced me to taste) multiple Washington cabs, as have others. I ha e had at least 30 WA cabs from various AVA’s and had nothing that would make me switch glasses with either a similar vintage Sociando Mallet or even a Malescot St-Exupery. The balance is different. The WA wines have always struck me as more Domestic IPA styled for a guy who likes Pilsners and Altbiers.

I will note that I certainly ha e not tasted every wine to come out of the state, nor am I denying that a great WA winemaker could make a wine that pushes Bordeaux, but I echo others that it is just not as evolved a winemaking scene as, say, Oregon for Pinot, and there’s a big push for commercial large scale production that works at cross purposes to making elegant and refined wines that push Bordeaux.

Sample size is 3-4 cases over 6-7 years, so not a huge sample size.
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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#48 Post by Josh Grossman » June 2nd, 2019, 9:30 pm

Thanks all!

As of now, thanks to the recommendations in this thread, I have:
2008 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
2016 Upchurch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (today on Full Pull)
2016 Betz Heart of the Hill

(and already had)
2014 JB Neufeld Cabernet Sauvignon Two Blondes Vineyard

I've tried a handful of Andrew Will and it didn't do it for me. In my opinion, I can find way better qpr in Bordeaux and Sonoma. I'm a bit biased against people making wine in Seattle and not near where the grapes are grown. How far is too far from the vineyard source? Could Andrew Will be in Cleveland? I've had wine, nearly as good, that was grown one county away from Cleveland.

I do buy Force Majeure/Sheridan Syrah/Rhone/Collaboration--and that is what actually prompted me to start this thread. I like their Syrah--and buy it almost every year, but the cab was a hot and oaky mess without enough acid to age. So far, for meritage blends, I like Betz Père de Famille and Clos de Betz and Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series.

It seems to hold true on the cheap end too. I love Kiona Syrah but their Red Mountain Cab was swill. 2003 McCrea Syrah Ciel du Cheval Vineyard was one of the best QPR's I've ever purchased. I did think the Powers AVA Collection Red Wine Horse Heaven Hills (Champoux Vineyard--78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot) was at least balanced and looking forward to seeing how it ages. I'll keep trying. Thanks again for all the responses.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#49 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 3rd, 2019, 5:45 am

NoahR wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 2:49 pm
and there’s a big push for commercial large scale production that works at cross purposes to making elegant and refined wines that push Bordeaux.
And the classic irony being, many Classified Growths product 20,000+ cases of their flagship wine! How they do that with such attention to quality is amazing.

And I agree with your other perceptions, but of course, that’s just my palate.

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Re: Will the Yakima Valley AVA Ever Produce Wines that Rival Great Bordeaux Blends in Cali & France?

#50 Post by Ron Slye » June 3rd, 2019, 3:52 pm

I have not had any recent vintages of Andrew Will, so cannot comment. But as noted above I have loved their wines from the 90s. I must say that I have not been that impressed with WA cab and cab blends either. The one recent exception was JB Neufeld -- if I were buying WA cab blends to age that would be one of my top choices. Let us know what you think when you open any of the above!

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